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Browse Middle School History/Biography
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Selected answers to common questions:
    About Roman numerals.

Mathematics in Colonial America [11/10/1997]
I am at a loss at how to incorporate pragmatic mathematic lessons into an early America lesson.

Math on Africa [01/03/1997]
We're doing an interdisciplinary unit on Africa. My part is to do something about math...

Measuring the Circumference of the Earth [08/16/1999]
How did Eratosthenes use a mathematical formula to prove the earth is round?

Memory Aid for Roman Numerals [05/10/2000]
What number is XLIII? Do you have a way of remembering what letter equals what number?

Millennium and the Year 0 [01/03/1999]
I know that they new millennium really begins in 2001 because there was no year 0. Why did they skip that year in the numbering?

A Mule and a Donkey [04/08/1999]
A famous Euclidean brainteaser.

Names of Polynomials [05/22/1999]
Why is an equation having only two roots, one of which is raised to the second power, called a quadratic equation?

Naming Large Numbers [06/05/2002]
In Rowlett's site for naming large numbers, he seems to take every American prefix and bump its meaning by one to get the corresponding Greek-based prefix. Why?

Naming Small Numbers [07/29/2002]
Why were the names 'one', 'two', 'three', and so on, given to those numbers?

Naming the Isosceles Triangle [09/23/1998]
How did the isosceles triangle receive its name?

Negative Number History [11/25/2001]
What happened in the 16th century that caused people to need to use negative numbers, and what was their image of a negative number before that?

The New Math [07/05/2000]
What is the "New Math?"

Number of Days in a Month [10/21/2000]
Why can't all months of the year have the same number of days?

Number Systems: Two Points of View [06/30/1998]
What are the number systems?

Number Word Etymologies [05/03/2001]
Who made up the names for numbers?

Numeral Systems and Representing Numbers [10/30/1998]
Can you tell me the different ways the number 8 is represented? For example, what about different numeral systems?

Omar Khayyam [01/19/1997]
I need three events about Omar Khayyam, a 1st century mathematican, for a high school report.

One Plus One [04/11/1997]
Are you sure that 1 plus 1 equals 2?

Origin of Algebra [9/14/1996]
Who found or used algebra first?

Origin of math [1/6/1995]
1. Where did math originate? 2. Who thought of the term math? 3. When did people decide to have math as a class in school? 4. Was the subject math an accident or did someone sit down and actually think about it? 5. Where did the word polygon come from?

The Origin of Month Names [10/17/1998]
If oct is the prefix for 8 and dec is the prefix for 10, why is October the 10th month and December the 12th month?

Origin of Net View [05/14/2002]
We are studying the volume of pyramids and my students were interested as to why the 'exploded' look at the pyramid was called the net view.

Origin of the 360-Degree Circle [11/10/1999]
Did the Babylonians discover the 360-degree circle?

Origin of the Infinity Symbol [1/20/1995]
I need to find the origin of the math symbol for infinity that is used today.

Origin of the Quadratic Equation [7/12/1996]
Who discovered the Quadratic Equation?

Origin of the Terms Sine, Cosine, Tangent, etc. [10/27/1999]
Can you tell me the origin of the terms hypotenuse, sine, cosine, and tangent? Can you tell me how the trigonometric formulas for sine, cosine, and tangent came about?

Origin of the Term Vertical Angles [04/04/2005]
Why do we call them "vertical angles" when many of them are "horizontal" (extending left and right)? Where did that name come from?

Origins of Names of Ordinal and Cardinal Numbers [05/15/2002]
Which came first, ordinals or cardinals?

Origins of the Fahrenheit Scale [11/20/1998]
Why did Fahrenheit choose 32 as the freezing point of water? Where did he get his scale?

Perpetual Calendar [10/21/1998]
How do you figure the perpetual calendar?

Plus and Minus Signs [08/14/2002]
What is the difference between the two signs and minus over the plus sign?

Polygon Names II [12/11/2003]
Why is the triangle named "triANGL"', unlike all the other polygons, which have names like "quadriLATERAL" or "pentaGON"?

Practical Applications of Negative Numbers [10/13/2002]
Why were negative numbers invented?

President Garfield and the Pythagorean Theorem [3/7/1995]
I know that one proof of the Pythagorean Theorem was done by James Garfield, before he became President of the United States. Can you give me any more information?

Quadratic Formula, Distributive Property [06/02/1997]
Who invented the quadratic formula?

Questions About Math [07/31/1999]
Why was the Cartesian plane invented? Were the more abstract branches of math developed just for fun? What is chaos theory? Why isn't Einstein's equation e = mc^3?

Ramanujan and a Formula for 1/Pi [04/06/1998]
Who is the man who knew infinity?

Resources for Math History [10/24/1995]
Can you please help a grade 7 student with a research project on the history of basic math - the origins of numbers, counting, the people who first used or discovered these, and how they affected civilization?

Rhind Papyrus Problems [03/23/1999]
What equations were on the Rhind Papyrus?

Roman Counting Instruments [04/24/1998]
Could you describe some of the early counting instruments developed by the Romans?

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